As of Friday, I wasn't sure if I was going to attend the Sharpton Rally. I don't always care for his messages. Right now in Hartford, I wish we had leaders that were respected enough to unify and guide our community so that we didn't have the need for outsiders to come here. Since we don't have those leaders in place currently I guess we need to take what we can get for help.
The lack of those leaders at the initial kickoff from Mount Moriah Church was noticeable. Councilman Kyle Anderson was inside the Church, as was Mayoral candidate Judge Bob Killian and his wife Candace, Congressman Larson was there also as well as many other community leaders. But no Mayor, no Council President, no Council Majority Leader, or even the Council Minority leader. The Rally started with a lot of energy as the community gathered to try to bring peace to our City
A singer identified only by his first name , Cedric, was called up to the altar to lead the group in song and he sang accapella a religious song that was very inspiring and made me realize the untapped talent we have among us. From there the group moved to Barbour Street, less than a block away from a recent homicide scene and about two blocks from where a young man was shot in the face last week.
As usual , the posers in our Community made themselves apparent. The lead of the march was quickly filled with the late arrival politicians trying to show themselves as leaders by being in the front of the crowd for the media cameras.
The back of the group was also important to note as the people that were there for the right reasons, to support a community in fear and grieving. Congressman Larson and Judge Killian as well as several ministers, Reverend Paul Ritter and others, brought up the rear. I guess their leadership is already known so they don't have to pose for the cameras like the front of the pack.
The march proceeded through some of Hartford's more dangerous streets, Barbour Street, Martin Street, Garden Street and eventually ended on Albany Avenue at Shiloh Baptist Church. As we proceeded south on Garden Street I couldn't help but think how many vigils I have attended on Garden Street in the single block between Mather and Albany for homicide victims. Far too many.
Once inside a fully packed Shiloh, the preaching began by the ministers in attendance. Reverend Henry Brown, who has been on the forefront of Hartford's violence problems for over a decade was exceptional in his words. Al Sharpton eventually came up to the pulpit and gave his words to the community in attendance. His words were not without conflict, especially when he made a plea for donations to his America Action Network . Probably not the best timing, but Sharpton is not only a minister but also a politician and politics requires money.
One person claiming to be a pastor headed for the main aisle and began shouting "How dare you?" at Sharpton. And while his point was valid, I think his timing was more for the theatrics of the event. I have never seen him out in the community advocating for Hartford's poor and impoverished nor have I ever seen him at a vigil for a homicide victim to support their families But at least he got his few seconds of fame. Sharpton's rebuke of him was also quick and severe, I think he will hopefully find a more suitable way to deliver his message next time.
Sharpton definitely knows how to preach and he brought the gathering to their feet to cheer and applaud his words numerous times, as well as leading the group in song with the Shiloh choir throughout the event. In the end, I think most people left with a sense of hope for Hartford's turnaround. We will see .
We also need to keep an eye out for the promised memorial and see how that moves along. All of the cash raised was promised to build that memorial with the names of homicide victims on it. With over 300 homicide victims in the last several years, that should be a good size memorial.
The video below is part of Sharpton's remarks. I apologize for the quality and the layout. I just upgrade to the I-phone 6 plus Friday and I still haven't got the hang of it yet, but the audio is good